Unlocking ‚Fortress Europe‘: EU Lifts Travel Restrictions on 15 Countries from 1 July

Written by | Friday, July 3rd, 2020

The EU Council has officially recommended to lift travel restrictions on visitors from 15 countries from today (1 July), but the United States, Russia, India and Brazil remain excluded. The ‚banned list‘ has already aroused controversy after it was revealed that the US – the worst-affected country worldwide by COVID-19 with more than 2.6 million cases – is not on the list of approved countries. The EU’s decision came as some of the US states that pushed hardest and earliest to reopen their economies are in retreat because of a surge in confirmed coronavirus infections. Only two days ago, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued an order to close gyms, bars, movie theatres and water parks, and mandated the wearing of masks.
The EU has extended its ban also on travellers from other big countries, including Russia, India and Brazil, all of which are seeing rapidly rising caseloads. China is on the ‚safe countries list‘ but only in the event that EU citizens are reciprocally allowed to travel to China as well. There was reportedly disagreement between EU members on the criteria to use for this decision, with some arguing that data about Covid-19 rates is not reliable. In the end, the EU said the list was decided based on the number of new Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks, the overall trend of Covid-19 cases and government handling of the crisis. A draft list of 54 countries had reportedly been discussed by EU members but the final list contains only 15 states.
Ultimately, it will remain up to individual EU countries to make the decision on the implementation of this list, meaning in some cases countries could even reimpose internal borders. Sources from the ECDC, the EU agency for disease prevention, said that the lists would be reviewed every two weeks. US neighbour Canada, as well as Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Uruguay, were included without conditions on the list. Algeria, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia rounded out the countries, which was agreed to by vote among the EU’s 27 member states.

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